Posts Tagged ‘philadelphia eagles’

Unabated to the Quarterback: The NFC East

We’re taking a different route with our NFL preview this season. Eschewing typical predictions—those require some form of legitimate knowledge—we’re asking what each NFL team means. An NFL season is a research paper, and each team enters it with a thesis statement.

New York Giants (11-5)

Why Aren’t the Giants Any Better?

“Virtue is nothing but a just temper between propensities any one of which, if indulged to excess, becomes vice.” —Thomas Babington Macaulay

Our introductory question is perhaps a counterintuitive one, given how, you might remember, the Giants won the Super Bowl last season for the second time in five years. But New York was, by the basic measurements, the worst team to ever do so: Its 9-7 record was the worst by an eventual champion, and no team had ever advanced to the Super Bowl after accumulating a negative point differential during the regular season, let alone win one.

It is hard to reconcile, then, these two different Giants teams — the one that was so thoroughly mediocre during the regular season (they lost to the Redskins! Twice!) and the one that steamrolled the 15-1 Packers and edged the Niners and the Patriots in the playoffs. Which team are the Giants really?

The answer, and this has been true for some time, is frustratingly in the middle. The Giants are a flawed team capable of overcoming those flaws in short bursts but not, it seems, for sustained stretches.* They are the modern sports franchise that thrives when it is counted out: the embodiment of every “Nobody believed in us!” cliché. The us-against-the-world mentality seems particularly powerful in football, a sport so built on emotion and where wanting it more might actually mean something.

*The counter-argument you can make here is the first dozen games of 2008, when New York was 11-1.

On the other hand, the Giants would also be better served if the NFL were like the NBA, where mediocre regular seasons were routinely rewarded with playoff berths, so New York could coast from Weeks 1 to 17 and then do its thing each January.

People believe in the Giants again, which is precisely why they shouldn’t. Continue reading

Unabated to the QB, Week 2: From Beast to Least

“A man is always a prey to his truths.”

–Albert Camus

NFC BEAST. That’s what we called it. The Redskins and Cowboys, Giants and Eagles. The SEC of the NFL. It wasn’t always the best division, but it was always in the conversation.

Year after year, all talk about teams from the NFC East had to be framed with the qualifier, “but in that division.” Sure, the Redskins are better, but in that division…. The Cowboys might be the best team in the NFC, but can they grab the top seed in that division? Every team in that division is just going to beat up on each other. It was, in short, the football equivalent of “in this economy.”

But this year? Through two weeks, the NFC East is looking more Least than Beast. The Eagles, Giants, and Redskins are 1-1; the Cowboys are 0-2. Their three combined wins are over the Lions, Panthers, and, well, the Cowboys. They have lost to the Texans and Bears and Packers at home and been embarrassed by the Colts on the road.

Now, I’m not saying it’s the worst division in football — the NFC West’s crown is secure; it’s just that the NFC East is not even close to being football’s best. The AFC East, North, and South are all better, the last of them proving it in non-conference matchups. The NFC North is better (two head-to-head wins already) and the South might be.

The Cowboys aren’t as good as the ignorant mainstream media expected, what with offensive coordinator Jason Garrett looking just as shaky as his offensive line and the secondary problems from last season re-emerging. The Eagles have made a strange, win-now decision to start Michael Vick over Kevin Kolb, negating everything they did in the past off-season. The Giants aren’t as good as some extrapolated from a not-that-impressive win over the not-at-all-impressive Panthers. And the Redskins are a holding call away from blowing two home games to start the season.

The four teams will continue to beat up on each other this year, but it won’t be because they’re all good.

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Aught Lang Syne: Franchises of the Decade

After running through the Teams of the Decade this morning, it’s time to rank the Franchises/Programs of the Decade—those that have consistently churned out competitive and championship-winning teams. My criteria included things like regular-season record, number of playoff appearances, conference titles, and championships into the equation, alongside less quantifiable measures such as historical imprint and landmark players.

NFL

(all information prior to Week 16 of 2009 NFL season)

WORST: Detroit Lions (0 playoff appearances, 0-16 season, 42-116 record)

5. New York Giants (1 title, 2 conference championships, 6 playoff appearances, 6-5 playoff record, 88-70 regular season)

4. Philadelphia Eagles (1 conference championship, 8 playoff appearances, 10-7 playoff record, 102-55-1 regular season)

3. Pittsburgh Steelers (2 titles, 2 conference championships, 6 playoff appearances, 10-4 playoff record, 101-56-1 regular season)

2. Indianapolis Colts (1 title, 1 conference championship, 9 playoff appearances, 7-7 playoff record, 115-43 regular season) Continue reading

NFL Preview Bonanza: NFC East

DISCLAIMER: I will be particularly unfair and subjective in this divisional analysis.

NEW YORK GIANTS

Last Season: 12-4

This Season: 11-5, NFC #1

First of all, let’s chill out about the receiver situation. Steve Smith and Domenik Hixon are tenable NFL receivers. Especially when you complement them with the league’s best rushing attack—as much a product of the offensive line than Brandon Jacobs and, this season, Ahmad Bradshaw—and arguably its best defensive line. The Giants are, to me, the NFC team with the fewest unanswered questions, and that’s why everyone harps so much on the receiver one. The bigger question, though, is if Eli Manning can throw a football through wind. Because he hasn’t done that yet, and if he still can’t this year, I’ll be hoping Big Blue can go on the road in the playoffs again.

Tim’s favorite players in New York Giant history is…: You expect me to settle for one? I own jerseys of Rodney Hampton, Jason Sehorn, Tiki Barber, Jeremy Shockey, Michael Strahan, and Lawrence Taylor. If pressed to choose one player, I’d go with the greatest defensive player of all-time. If you give me more latitude, I’ll throw in Simms, Hampton, Tiki, Amani Toomer, Dave Meggett, Carl Banks, Pepper Johnson, Jesse Armstead, Matt Bahr, Jeff Feagles…

Greatest Ever? Greatest Ever.

Remember when Giant fans liked Tiki Barber? It seems so long ago. Back then, we thought he’d be a good broadcaster, too. We were so naïve.

And Sehorn? Now hold on. Sehorn was en route to stardom until he tore his ACL in that preseason game against the Jets in 1998. August 20, to be exact—the same night Mark McGwire hit two home runs (Nos. 50-51) in a doubleheader at Shea Stadium. If not for that injury—particularly devastating to a cornerback who didn’t have a lot of margin for error in terms of speed—Sehorn would have been a legit Pro Bowler.

A Great and Recent Giant Game: The Greatest from February 3, 2008. But let’s not forget other Great and Recent Giant Games, such as “Third Tynes the Charm,” the last regular-season game against the Broncos, 41-0, that other regular-season game against the Broncos, Mark Ingram! (or Scott Norwood!), and Matt Bahr!

Yeah, field goal kicking was important in 1990: Yes, yes it was.

Can we get that Montana hit? That might be the iconic hit on a quarterback.

Not Theismann? That’s just mean. (P.S. I still can’t watch that. It’s too painful. And I really dislike Joe Theismann!)

Can you say one thing bad about the Giants? Of course. But I won’t.

Not even about Tom Coughlin? You mean “The Debacler”? Nah, we’re cool now.

If the Giants were a historical event, they would be: The Treaty of Verdun. Charlemagne/Plaxico Burress’ responsibilities have been split up and delegated to several more individuals. How will the new leaders cooperate in response?

Did you know? I love the Giants.

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